In California, asparagus season runs from late April through June so you should be out stalking asparagus right now. Search for a firm spear with tight tips and vivid color. Remember, the thicker the stalk, the older the plant. Thinner asparagus are younger and more tender.
If you can, seek our the pencil-thin asparqgus spears. Their tender skin allows them to cook more quickly and the greater surface area of the thinner stalks means more area to caramelize.
1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus stalks, more or less.
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano (or other aged goat or sheepsmilk cheese)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil,
Salt & White Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon meyer lemon juice
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar*
1 large shallot, finely minced
Rinse the asparagus and break off the woody bottoms. Cut the asparagus spears into thirds to create four inch pieces. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, vinegar and seasonings. Coat the asparagus pieces in the dressing and arrange them in a large baking dish. Slide the baking dish under a broiler at least six inches away from the flame. Reserve the remainder of the dressing in the bowl.
Holding the tongs, broil the asparagus for a few minutes while staring at them to the poiont that they may actually become uncomfortable. Every couple of minutes remove the baking dish from the oven and qjuickly rearrange the pieces with the tongs and returning them to the oven, so that they change color evenly, darkening from green to golden brown at the edges without blackening.
When you are fully satisfied with the color on all sides, remove the apsaragus from the oven and quickly toss the pieces in the bowl once again first with the remaining dressing, and then coating them in the cheese. Arange the spears onto the baking dish again and slide it under the broiler for a final minute so that the cheese begins to melts but does not burn.
* Fig vinegar or Vin Santo wine vinegar make a great option!
* California’s Vella’s dry-aged Jack Cheese is a wonderful local alternative to Parmigiano Reggiano, or Pecorino.